This article was first posted on our blog on 26/04/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.
Overgrowth of a forum is one of the most off putting features for forums.
I personally experienced it about 6 months back when I have around a 3:1 of topics:posts, meaning that my boards were extremely cluttered and I eventually got so overwhelmed with it that I had to close it.
What is overgrowth?
Overgrowth is the process in which a forum literally out grows itself. It becomes like a garden full of weeds, uncared for and unappreciated. You can see many free forums hosts still hosting forums which have over 1000+ of pure spam, and that is the resultant factor of it.
1. Flux in activity
A flux (or fluxuation) is a dramatic rise in something, in this case, it is a dramatic rise in registrations to your board. It’s a wonderful feeling going to bed and have ~100 members, and then waking up and having ~250, but then you realize they are all “no-posters” and have links plastered all over their profile.
This is one of the first signs of a wave of incoming spam (for those technically minded, bots use an inlink: tag in google search terms and hunt down phpBB backlinks via that). The way to stop this (whilst it’s happening or before hand) is to add in anti-spam measures.
PhpBB seems to be slacking with the anti-spam, but IPB and vB have extremely good measures. I suggest looking into paid forum software (if you haven’t already) to begin building a better future for your forum.
2. Unregistered users with no posts
Whilst working amongst SEO experts, I know that forum profiles are a great way to build backlinks for free. There are several pieces of Blackhat SEO softwares that offers this, so watch out!
Not everybody who registers on a forum will post, genuine or not. But there are a few things to look out for:
– Random profile details and a profile link with no posts.
– Strange location and no traffic stats showing this incoming member.
Deleting these accounts may be the right way to go, as it’s often seen that a forum with 1000’s of members but only a few posts are regarded as spam.
Not just email activation will deter this, you need to have STRONG anti spam settings and email activation in place.
3. Deleting topics to a recycle bin
Got a recycle bin? We all do. No not in your bedroom, I meant in the private section on your forum! Silly billy.
Some MODs for forums will make it that all the links in a Trash Can will be essentially deactivated, but some do not.
When you get a forum post in the wrong section full of links and typically in the wrong language, don’t just delete it!
– Move the post to the trash can,
– Follow it and edit the post of all links,
– Leave a notification for your other staff members in the thread that you’ve removed the links.
This will mean that spammers will not rank higher than you in search engines, and your forum will be kept squeaky clean!